Wow. I had no idea how incredibly Byzantine our transportation funding system could be until I had a sit-down with Randy “The Man” Rentschler at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.
You know that federal program that was supposed to fund reverse commuting? Well, a reverse commute is what lower-income folks often do to get to service-oriented jobs in the suburbs.
It all goes back to that nagging equity issue, over which a group of bus-rider advocates is suing the MTC in federal court.
One of the many sore points they bring up is the issue of federal reverse-commute funding. I will now give the MTCs side. The other side will get their chance later.
The beef laid out last week in front of the Alameda County Supervisors, who promptly voted in favor of a resolution crafted by the plaintiffs, was this:
The MTC went to Washington, D.C. to lobby in favor of President Bushs effort to scrap a program that was of benefit to AC Transit. The point: The MTC doesnt support bus riders, who tend to be poorer and darker-skinned than rail riders, who, by the way, are lavishly subsidized while bus riders receive their leftover scraps.
As MTC sees it, Bush was on the right track, at least where transit funding was concerned. The old reverse commute program was simply a budget item that was tacked onto an appropriations bill. Therefore, it could be cut or eliminated at the whim of Congress.
MTC argued for an alternative appropriation that created a funding formula that would assure funding for a period of years.
And whether or not you agreed with the change, with a Republican-run Congress following the lead of a Republican administration, the deal was done no matter what some lefty transportation officials from the flesh pots of Gomorrah thought about it.
And then theres this whole capital-operating conundrum, but Ill save that for another day